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Pirelli’s tyre development plans boosted by new test car
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Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Mar 2012   |  1:53 pm GMT  |  38 comments

Pirelli has made clear its desire to continue playing an active role in improving the Formula 1 spectacle through its tyres and today secured a more up-to-date car, in the shape of the 2010 Renault, with which to continue private testing through the course of this season.

The Italian manufacturer was credited with helping transform the quality of the racing last year through the advent of deliberately less durable tyres and in recent months has been pushing to get access to a more contemporary machine, having run a 2009 Toyota since being confirmed as the replacement supplier for Bridgestone mid-way through 2010.

With the Toyota TF109 now considered as having reached the end of its shelf life, Pirelli had been struggling to get agreement amongst the teams for what car it could use next. But a breakthrough has now been reached, with the firm announcing that the Renault R30 will now be used to conduct four or five tests at Barcelona, Jerez, Spa and Monza during the course of this year – with the first session test scheduled for sometime in May.

The R30 will be adapted to simulate the latest 2012 technical and aerodynamic regulations and all 12 teams will be invited to send one observer to each test, although no data surrounding the test programme will be supplied.

With a new car now finalised, Pirelli’s next task is to appoint a designated test driver to carry out the track duties. Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa and Lucas di Grassi have all completed tests for the company over the two season and with several experienced drivers currently on the sidelines, such as Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil, a number of candidates are likely to be in the running for the 2012 role.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said he hopes to make that appointment within the next month, adding that he was pleased to have finally gained access to a more modern piece of machinery.

He said: “It was clear from an early point that we needed a more modern solution for our test car, as while the Toyota TF109 has served us extremely well, it is now three years old. Technology as well as the regulations have moved on considerably since then, and the Toyota is no longer able to generate the same sort of forces that we need to simulate in order to meet the current requirements of Formula One. At the top of our agenda is the need to treat the teams entirely equally, which is why the test team will be run independently and all the teams will be able to send an observer to the tests. Our new test car will be running to current fuel regulations, with no refueling, so we will be able to simulate a full race distance and the change in balance with the car and tyres. The final piece of the jigsaw will be to recruit a test driver, and we hope to announce this within a month.”

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38 Comments
  1. Adrian Sutil would make quite an awesome test driver!

    1. CTP says:

      …except that everything that’s ever been documented about his testing abilities says they’re useless!

    2. CarlH says:

      He’s still insisting that he will find a drive at some point in 2012.

      Hopefully this will be the only option presented to him.

  2. Sam says:

    And the test driver is…Alguersuari

    1. CTP says:

      hehe, that would be funny

    2. jjpm says:

      no, no, no… Jarno Trulli will be their driver!

  3. Jason Norwood says:

    Did Bridgestone ever do these kinda tests?

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      No, didn’t need to. Before the test restrictions were put in place for 09 2/3rds of all testing by the teams was on tyres and after that Bridgestone had 13 years of experience and data to call on to be certain they were getting it right with only limited track mileage.

  4. Dmitry says:

    And it’s like if R30 is not 2 years old already… but possibly still better than TF109. Good for Pirelli.

    May I be the only voice here, but I want so much for more tyre manufacturers to enter F1. If financially regulated, tyre war is a good thing… and would have created much better racing, even compared to current state. I know it won’t happen, but it is not prohibited to dream.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      I would love to see a tyre war again, particularly since the restricted testing would help to keep it in check.

    2. AndyFov says:

      I don’t think a tyre war does much for the spectacle.

      I’d want to see the best team win, not the team with the best tyres.

      1. WiLL says:

        exactly look what happened to Mclaren in 2006! they were fighting it out with renault in 2005 on Michelins and defo had the quicker (albeit less reliable) car of the two and then the following season in 2006 were no where. come end of 2006 all teams bolt on Bridgestone control tyres and mclaren left Renault for dust! tyre competition is a nice idea but in reality its not good.

      2. AndyFov says:

        I think the only way it might only work if they had a rule which meant each team had to use Brand A for half the races, they’d choose which, then Brand B for the rest.

        That’d mix things up a bit. Someone tell FOTA!

      3. Martin says:

        The Renault and McLaren were on the same tyres in all those seasons (Michelin up to end of 2006), so it was the McLaren not being as good a design as the Renault in 2006 and the Renault being a disaster in 2007 as it got aerodynamic model of the Bridgestone tyres wrong, giving it unpredictable transient behaviour.

        What did change was that in 2006 Bridgestone were back in contention with Ferrari, unlike the one tyre rule in 2005.

        Cheers,

        Martn

      4. WiLL says:

        When they put on the 2007 Bridgestone control tyres to their 2006 cars, Mclaren immediately was a good bit faster so that proves that it was the Michelin tyres giving Renault their performance. The Michelin tyres and the Renault car were designed in cohesion. Flavio Briatore has since admitted that they won with a car that wasnt as good as the competition (dont ask me which F1 site that was mentioned on as I have loads bookmared, but I did read the article).

  5. Guy says:

    What about your new co-commentator for the test drivers role? That would assist him in finding a seat next year.

  6. Mike M says:

    Be great to see if Rubens puts himself forward for this role or would be approached?

    1. Robert s says:

      he’s racing in indy cars this year

      1. Mike M says:

        True, but I’d imagine the test dates would be flexible and changeable for the right driver input and his feedback on the cars was always highly regarded.

  7. goferet says:

    To be honest, I would have been more comfortable with the knowledge that the new test car was a HRT car instead of the Renault one especially so seeing as the former Renault outfit are looking pretty good when it comes to tyre degradation and for peace on Earth, they better not win any titles, (like EVER) or else the conspirators will be out in force.

    Now with Pirelli saying (for a while now) that the 2012 tyres are better and will improve the racing, I don’t see the need for further tests unless of course, Pirelli is trying to pull the wool over the fans’ eyes and the ultimate goal is to slowly give us durable tyres just like the Bridgestones.

    Hopefully Adrian Sutil gets the drive because from those former tyre testers’ names, it looks like drivers that have gone this route have a higher chance of getting back into the sport than the rest.

    1. No-one from Renault will be running the car, nor will they see any data. I don’t see any problem with this.

      Sutil likely won’t get hired, firstly because he’s known as a sub-standard development driver, and also due to his tarnished public image.

      Why go with Sutil when you can have Trulli, Alguersuari, d’Ambrosio or Heidfeld step in and do a better job?

  8. Andrew Carter says:

    I’m glad this has finally been sorted out, with testing highly restricted it’s important that Pirelli get the chance to test for themselves.

    1. newton says:

      Excellent pic!

  9. SK Anand says:

    Dear James

    F1 is usually positioned as on the cusp of technology marvel kind of sport, but dont you think that if there is truly a wider market for the sport, and with more auto majors coming in, we should move away from spec standard sport, where in this case everyone use the same kind of tires, the team have the option to use a bridgestone or a michelin, like they use diff engines. Will that make the sport more interesting, rather than the difusers, KERS, or automatic overtaking zones?

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      Tyre wars were tried in the past and it becomes very expensive, and possibly processional should one tyre manufacturer crack the proper design, leaving the other manufacturer(s) behind. IMHO the performance gained from a superior tyre is all that a team needs to dominate the others. BUT I agree that should, say, RBR and McLaren both be on the same tyre manufacturer, it would make for some interesting racing. As James said, it doesn’t really add to the spectacle.

    2. Rich C says:

      What are you talking about? I don’t see any major auto companies coming in – they all just left!

      And we had years of tire-wars which nobody liked. Then some suppliers dropped out. So now its one tire supplier and its a level playing field.

      1. I liked tire wars. I like that tire companies push the envelope and try new things. You end up with lighter tires that have more grip, and the racing can only benefit from it.

        If Michelin wants a tire war, there must be some benefit to it.

        F1 should not be a spec series, for any component of the car. If they want to control tire costs, they can mandate a minimum inertia for each tire to ensure that there isn’t a war to try to get a lighter construction of tire. There are lots of limits that could be imposed to cut costs while still allowing companies to create new compounds that improve performance.

        Finally, then we wouldn’t need any of these ridiculous rules than mandate using different tire types to artificially spice up the show.

  10. Franco says:

    Instead of them having test car I would have preferred more in season testing, in my opinion this would have better solution for everyone.

    1. db4tim says:

      It would result in a much more diverse data set.

  11. Kay says:

    James, Bridgestone never had to use any car from any team on developing tires. So why does Pirelli need to do this?

    1. James Allen says:

      Because there is no testing allowed now. In Bridgestone’s time teams were free to test between races

      Ferrari had a tyre development budget from Bridgestone in the Schumacher era. A big budget. They did immense testing mileage. That’s all gone now

      1. Rich C says:

        I still don’t see what they hope to gain. There’s no competition and the tires seem to be doing as they were supposed to.
        Is it just PR?

      2. Kay says:

        Thank you for your reply and the info, James! =)

  12. Kevin Green says:

    One week and counting F1 fans YIIIPPPPEEEEEEE! :) :) :)

  13. AussieWoZ says:

    I find it strange they don’t get more assistance in attaining a car from the previous season. What will happen next year? Is it up to one of the teams to volunteer?

  14. indio says:

    oh man, would be great if Kubica could take development role, besides he knows R30, hopefully he will be fit enough

  15. 4k says:

    What are you talking about?

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